Kyle Schwarber is lost for now. He’s been lost most of the season, in fact. So has been almost half of the defending World Series champions. Team president Theo Epstein could and did send Schwarber to Triple-A Iowa to find himself again, preferably not chasing bad pitches and rediscovering the groove that might have been fractured when he was moved to the leadoff slot.
Bet on it: If Daniel Murphy had F-bombed umpire Alan Porter Tuesday night, Murphy would be sent to bed without his supper and with a few thousand less dollars in his bank account. What’s the penalty for the ump F-bombing the player who did nothing more heinous than ask him to move a bit further out of Murphy’s sight line playing second base?
These, I thought to myself, were the kind of home runs I saw Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Dave Kingman and Mike Schmidt hit. Not just home runs but conversation pieces. Not just an unimpeded trip around the bases but anything from a potential flight onto the number 4 el tracks to a broken window behind a ballpark.
We should be enjoying things this week. Things like the Astros’ staggering dominance of the American League West and maybe baseball itself, the bombing of Yankee rookie Aaron (Here Comes The) Judge, the near-classic pitching duel between Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg, the four-homer game of an obscurity named Scooter Gennett, the 600th home run of Albert Pujols.
But no. Baseball is played and governed by human beings, and human beings are only too fallible. Consider:
Once upon a time, Jose Alberto Pujols Alcantara became baseball’s first player to join the 500 home run club by hitting numbers 499 and 500 on the same night. Saturday night, he became the only one to join the 600-home run club with a grand slam at the expense of a former teammate.
“I’m not the only one [to surrender a homer to Pujols], you know,” Ervin Santana kidded after the game. “I’m No. 9 right now on the 600 club. He’s very nice and very humble. He always worked hard, and you can tell. He’s ‘The Machine’.”
Let’s see. Jim Maloney, who dealt his entire career with shoulder and arm miseries, suffered a muscle strain while trying to pitch a no-hitter in 1964. Then-Reds manager Fred Hutchinson, himself a former pitcher, took no chances and lifted Maloney.
Maloney had two no-hitters in his future, but he’d also leave another no-hitter-in-the-making thanks to injuring his ankle running the bases in the top of the sixth. (His career would be marked paid for all intent and purpose in 1970, as an Angel, when he severed an Achilles tendon . . . on a baserunning play.)
I wondered what was taking so long with Hunter Strickland’s suspension appeal, too. But now we know, thanks to the San Jose Mercury-News‘s Andrew Baggarly: Strickland’s appeal date won’t be until 13 June. And for those who think Bryce Harper got heard a little too swiftly and a little too favourably, there’s more than you think to it.
As Baggarly reports, baseball government—which too often behaves like government government when wisdom is called for—offered to cut Harper’s suspension if he dropped his appeal. Harper accepted the offer and got his suspension reduced to 27 innings. (Three games.)
One of the most thoughtfully articulate baseball players of his time stands athwart sense, yelling “Super!” about brawl games such as that instigated by Hunter Strickland against Bryce Harper on Memorial Day. It’s enough to provoke lustful thoughts about the Kardashians, to whom exhibitionism equals articulation.
Schpritzing about who does and does not have the right to flip a bat upon a monster mash may be one thing, but Jake Arrieta, Cubs pitcher, thinks the Strickland-Harper rumble was “awesome.”